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State Superintendent Spearman Approves Junk Food Sales in Schools

iStock_000042564504Large-350pxSouth Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman issued a memo to district superintendents to set policy on the number of fundraisers exempt from Smart Snack guidelines. This policy puts in place an approach that permits 39 fundraising days for the remaining 2014-2015 school year and 90 fundraising days for the 2015-16 school year during which food that does not meet healthy guidelines can be sold to raise money for the school.

Eat Smart Move More South Carolina and other advocates expressed their disappointment in the policy. As South Carolina has the 2nd highest childhood obesity rate in the country, this policy is one of the weakest in the nation.

ESMMSC Executive Director Beth Franco stated, “The school environment is a critical part of teaching children about making the right choice in the foods they eat. Fast food, cupcake, and candy sales at school undermine what health-conscious parents and teachers are trying to teach children. Providing students with healthy food and beverage choices not only contributes to their overall health, but also improves their learning skills and grades. A healthy school environment can lead to healthier behaviors later in life.”

Although ESMMSC is disappointed in the new policy on Smart Snacks fundraising exemptions, we will continue to work with Superintendent Spearman and others to create a healthy environment for all students. Many parents support this, based on nonpartisan polling done last summer.

While Superintendent Spearman’s ruling creates the opportunity to continue selling less nutritious foods to raise money, individual schools have the authority to create stronger school policies.  School districts in South Carolina are already proving that fundraising revenue does not need to suffer if healthy snacks or non-food items are sold. A great example is Brockman Elementary School in Forest Acres, whose FUNDrun raised more than $19,000 in one day, and the large majority of that money was raised by their students.

Ocean Bay Middle School in Horry County also plans on sticking to healthy foods. “As a school where you have adolescents, it probably isn’t the best to be feeding them sugars during the day. So we probably won’t ask for any more exemptions,” says Principal Connie Huddle.

If schools and parents are interested in learning more about healthy food and non-food fundraisers, they can visit our website, www.eatsmartmovemoresc.org.